Non-Medical Requirements for Disability

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Non-Medical Requirements for Disability

When most people think about qualifying for Social Security disability benefits (SSD), they’re focused on whether or not the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider them disabled. While medical qualification is required, it’s not the only factor.

Strict Non-Medical Eligibility Requirements

Sufficient Social Security Work Credits

SSD is a disability insurance program, not a public benefit. That means that you can only qualify if you have paid the required “insurance premiums.” For most types of work, these contributions are withheld from your paycheck. If you’re self-employed, they come from your self-employment taxes. 

How many work credits you need to qualify for SSD depends on your age at the time you become disabled. Most workers will need 40 work credits (about 10 years of work) across their careers, and 20 work credits (about 5 years of work) in the 10 years leading up to their disability. But, the calculation isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, because credits are based on earnings, not time worked. So, for example, a high-earning worker might earn all four work credits for the year in the first quarter. On the other hand, a low-earning part-time worker might work most or all of the year without accruing the full four credits. 

The SSA keeps records and may determine that you have sufficient work credits without needing any information from you. But, if they say you don’t, you’ll want to review the work history they have for you–mistakes do happen.

Not Exceeding the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Cut-off

In 2024, that means if you can earn no more than $1,550/month if you’re not blind. For blind applicants, the SGA cut-off is $2,590/month. This applies only to earned income. Income from trusts, investments, gifts from family, and other non-work income is not counted. 

Other Non-Medical Considerations

Depending on your case, the SSA may or may not consider factors such as your work history and educational level in determining whether you are disabled. That’s because if your condition doesn’t meet or equal a listing in the Social Security, the SSA looks at other factors to help determine whether you can engage in SGA. That includes things like skills from past work, your educational background, and your age. 

A Disability Help Group Advocate Can Help

There’s a lot to think about when applying for SSD, and innocent mistakes could result in an unnecessary denial. Our experienced disability benefits advocates have deep knowledge of what’s required for a successful SSD application. To learn more about how we can help, call (800) 800-3332 or fill out our contact form right now.

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